#16: Ambulance LTD – Swim (2004)
There’s a large element of context to the songs we adore. That first listen; it grabs you in a vice-like embrace, and although subsequent visits often reveal different depths, graceful textures, it’s that original coupling that retains the evocation, defines the future relationship.
I’m certainly not going to head off into the detail here, but my first encounter with Ambulance LTD occurred during a very different time to the present. When emotions were rawer. When the gulls swept over my seaside apartment as if the callous first wave of a massive invasion force. Released in 2004 (or a year later in the UK, as my always impressive research reveals), sole album LP arrived with a degree of transient provenance – hip, photogenic New Yorkers with guitars and a strong sense of wide-vista indie sound – yet bar a brief flurry of music press interest, focus rapidly moved on to other bands (at least on this side of the Atlantic). And I – of course – loved it from the off. Too cleanly produced, perhaps a shade too derivative and a little too knowing, as if the arc of each song’s composition was deliberately slanted towards the predictions of the listening hoards rather than the band’s own internal momentum, it’s none-the-less an incredibly thematic album. I think I spent the whole of 2005 listening to it.
Having listened to LP again today (oh, such meticulous research), what struck me was differing inflexions of the tracklist, indicative of a long and fractured recording process. There’s a lot of different names on the list of producers, to the effect that there’s an understandable lack of cohesion. However, by the time I’d arrived at track ten, all had been forgiven. ‘Swim’ is a wonderful piece of music. Distorted, duelling guitars that underpin a sort of grinding mesmerism. Listening to this, I can fully appreciate why I fell for this song, regardless of context. Listening to it, I can almost hear the background waves.
Ambulance LTD / Swim